Virtual Forgiveness

From: E.T. in Denver

Dear Rabbi,

Is it permissible to ask for “mechila” (forgiveness) over an email network rather than in person? I know it’s not preferable, but many of us work in large networked environments. We considered the option of sending it receipt-requested to a specific address rather than an all-points broadcast. Thanks!

Dear E.T.,

There are two components in achieving forgiveness from someone we have wronged. One is the initiative of asking for forgiveness; the other is the granting of the forgiveness.

Ideally, we try for both. While doing so in person is the best way to appease someone, it is not always possible. Asking for forgiveness in a written letter, over the phone or in cyber space is also acceptable, particularly when the person responds.

Nevertheless, even if a person doesn’t confirm his forgiveness, in the pre-“Kol Nidre” confession a Jew says that he forgives anyone who wronged him, and prays that G‑d will inspire others to forgive him as well.

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